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HUD 264.714

Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1864. Class Book : an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUD 264.714
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1864.
Title: Class Book, 1863-1924.
Date(s): 1863-1924.
Quantity: 0.5 cubic feet
Quantity: 1 Volumes ([16], 920 p. ; 42 cm.)
Abstract: The volume holds the records of the class from graduation in 1864 through the 1923-1924 academic year. The biographical entries form the largest portion of the Class Book.

Acquisition Information:

Received from Dr. Wm. L. Richardson, 24 February 1933.

Processing Information:

Inventory created and encoded in December 2004 by Tom Bruno, Intern.

Conditions on Access:

Access is unrestricted; however, the volume is fragile and users are required to consult related materials first.

Photocopy Restriction:

Volume binding is in poor condition and may not be photocopied on standard copier. Researchers may order copy prints or scans of relevant sections of the volume; consult Reference Staff for details.

Related Material

For official confirmation of the matriculation or degree status of members of the Class, consult official University records (e.g. admissions records).
See also HOLLIS, the Harvard On-line Library Information System for works by and about the Class of 1864 and works by and about individual members of the class.

Evolution of the Harvard College Class Books

The Harvard classes began compiling class books in about 1800. These documents capture what college life was like from freshman to senior year. They were typically written by an elected class secretary and were often maintained for many years following commencement.
Each class book is titled according to a specific class's graduating year, but it really includes information about the entire college and post-college group experience, from freshman to senior year, often documenting class reunions, significant events in each alumnus's life, and finally including obituary notices. Harvard classes discontinued the practice of compiling class books around 1900.
Class books for the earliest years pre-date photography. They therefore do not contain photographs, unless the class members took the trouble to include alumni photographs. The class books are complemented in the later years of the nineteenth century by another series, the class albums. Unlike class books, class albums were usually compiled by individual students, not the class secretary. Therefore, many class albums may exist for only a single class year. Class albums typically include a student's selection of photographs of students, faculty, staff, the campus, and buildings. Class albums exist for classes of the mid-20th to early 21st-century.

History of the Class of 1864

In many respects Harvard life in the 1860s resembled that of decades past. With respect to class size and the physical layout of the campus, Harvard had not changed appreciably since the 1850s. Students still lived in a relative lack of luxury compared to the classes that would follow them. According to Moorfield Storey, whose address "Harvard in the 60's" was given before the Harvard Memorial Society at Sanders Theater 3 April 1896, students of that era "built our own fires, blacked our own boots, carried our own water." Funding for athletic clubs was meager, as were athletic facilities themselves. Not yet built were the Holmes Gymnasium, Jarvis, and Soldier's Field; in lieu of proper swimming facilities the student body availed themselves of Fresh Pond, leading Storey to quip: "[A]nd if, as an old friend of mine said, he 'detected a slight scholastic flavor in his water, we were doubtless responsible for it.'"
The Class of 1864 knew less luxury in its educational pursuits, as well. From the mandatory prayer bell in the morning to a common course load, Harvard classes of the 1860s fostered a sense of close intimacy that was lost as the curriculum gravitated away from required courses (such as Ancient Greek, which was dropped in 1883, the same year that beloved and quirky Professor Evangelinus Apostolides Sophocles, through whose freshman Greek classes most if not all Harvard students were obliged to pass, died). Less choice in educational pursuits, however, often translated into less scholarly enthusiasm, leading many a Harvard graduate from this period to look back on his college years not so much as an education as training in the art of doing "disagreeable work." The Harvard undergraduate curriculum for the Class of 1864 was uncomplicated.
But the world outside the gates of Harvard Yard during this time was growing more complex. The Class of 1864 entered Harvard at the culmination of twenty years of national struggle and internal turmoil, leading to the outbreak of Civil War. Many students, although infected with "war fever,' were forbidden by their parents from joining the armed forces until graduation. This did not stop many from enlisting; indeed they enlisted not just for the cause of the Union, but that of the Confederacy as well. The Winter of 1861 saw a mass exodus of Harvard's Southerners, and it would be many years before the South would send significant numbers of students again. Of the Class of 1864's 99 graduates, 41 fought in the Civil War (35 with the Union, six with the Confederacy). Those who did remain on campus drilled with a French instructor, Colonel Salignac, in a field at Longwood, and were tapped as volunteers to guard the Arsenal when the Pulaski Guard was called up for regular duty.
Despite a rigorous schedule and trying times, the Class of 1864 enjoyed many forms of recreation. The participated in literary clubs such as the Institute of 1770, in The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and in secret societies including the infamous "Med. Fac." They enjoyed athletic activities such as boating and the new game of baseball. While the Class of 1866 claims credit for establishing the first baseball club at Harvard, the honor in fact goes to the Class of 1864, although the "Cricket and Base Ball Club" would prove to be short-lived. Nevertheless, when the sophomores of Harvard played against those of Williams College in Spring 1864 in the first intercollegiate baseball game, among the nine-man lineup for Harvard were three upperclassmen. Williams cried foul, but prevailed nonetheless, with a final score of 12 to 9.
Like earlier Harvard classes, the Class of 1864 retained social ties after leaving Harvard. The first Class Meeting, was called 14 January 1864, at which Class Officers were elected. Meetings were held on a frequent but irregular basis for the years 1864, 1865, 1866, and 1867. After 1867, Class Meeting,s were held on an annual basis, with special meetings called to commemorate the death of fellow classmates. Class suppers at first were held every three years, then annually beginning in 1874. Before 1916, the class supper, when it occured, was normally held the day before the Class Meeting,; from 1916 on, however, the class supper and the Class Meeting, were held on the same day.


Volume has 16 unnumbered Pages at its beginning, including a tabbed alphabetical index.

Scope and Content

The Class book holds the records of the class from graduation in 1864 through 1923/24. The biographical entries form the largest portion of the Class Book and contain genealogical information of varying completeness, autobiographies, and memoirs from the individual class members. These provide a narrative of individual undergraduate experiences and a record of post-graduate lives. The Class Book also contains records of the class as a whole, including lists the Class Secretaries, graduating class members, and Class Officers. It holds the Class's ceremonial records (the class oration, class poem, class song, and baccalaureate hymn), minutes of Class Meeting,s, 1864 to 1924, records of class suppers until 1923, and a ledger of class funds from graduation expenses through 1923/24.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2016 February 4.

Additional title

Stamped on spine: Records: Class of 1864.

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